As lawyers, we must not, in hot pursuit of common law, outrun common sense. The dread of that eventuality prompted this book. Learned Writing promotes common sense in legal language. Plain language, which is commonsensical, broadens access to legal documents, thus democratizing the law.
If democracy is government of the people, by the people, and for the people, law is the language in which government interacts with the people—it is the language of democracy. The people whose government speaks through law must understand what is said.
No democratic society should brook legalese, a dense, verbose dialect known only to lawyers. What then should society do to redress the lawyer-induced obscurity? A Shakespearean character had an alarming proposal: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Apparently, that proposal was not enthusiastically endorsed, which explains why we’re still here. A milder remedy—enrolling lawyers in language classes—has been muted, which explains why this book is in your hands.
Learned Writing motivates lawyers to prefer plain language to the legalese and verbosity that have besmirched legal writing for centuries.
This book is as sweeping a treatment of its subject as you can find anywhere.